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Dive Review of Salt Cay Divers/Tradewinds Guest Suites in
Turks and Caicos/Salt Cay

June, 2005, an Instant Reader Report by Sandy Falen, KS, USA
Sr. Contributor   (24 reports, with 3 Helpful votes)
Report Number 1731
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
501-1000 dives
Where else diving
Roques,Saba,Bonaire,Curacao,Dominica,Statia,Little Cayman,Brac,San
Salvador,Costa Rica,Fiji,Providencia,Kauai
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, windy, dry  
choppy, noCurrents  
Water Temp
79   to 80    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
60   to 100    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Divers were allowed to dive their computer, without an arbitrary time
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  4 stars
Tropical Fish
4 stars  
Small Critters
  3 stars
Large Fish
3 stars  
Large Pelagics
  4 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
4 stars  
Boat Facilities
2 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
4 stars  
Shore Facilities  
Boat facilities consisted of a bucket or cooler filled with water -- not
fancy, but adequate, given the short boat rides and the fact that we
returned to shore between dives.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
3 stars
5 stars
Service and Attitude
4 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
4 stars  
Shore Diving  
1 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
4 stars   
4 stars    
Having traveled the Caribbean widely over the past dozen years, only
occasionally does a location grab my heart.  In this case, simply put, I
fell in love with Salt Cay.

If youre into Club Meds, Grand Hyatts, casinos, and nightclubs, please do
us all a favor and stay away from this very special place.  Tiny Salt Cay,
with its all of three square miles of flat, scrubby, unpaved island charm,
will take you back to the Caribbean of years ago.  Heres a place where I
never locked my room and where the only strangers trying to get in were the
local donkeys Where the beach was right outside my door  Where the trade
winds swept through my room constantly, eliminating even the thought of air
conditioning  And where the finest nighttime entertainment to be had was
lounging on a seaside hammock under the stars.

Debbie and Ollie of Salt Cay Divers were my hosts for seven days of
outstanding diving amid the Turks & Caicos Columbus Passage.  That
massive trench in the ocean floor, which in the winter serves as the
migration path for humpback whales, provides for stunning underwater
scenery along breathtaking walls.  The reefs are healthy, with the most
beautiful sea fans Ive seen in the Caribbean, along with frequent
opportunities to spot southern stingrays, eagle rays, nurse sharks, and
turtles.  On my first day in the water, I was stunned to spot a pair of
bottlenose dolphins  not on the surface, but cruising past me along the
reef!  On another occasion, I was entertained at length by an octopus that
had caught a large lobster for lunch.  I followed while the octo busily
hauled it across the reef to his den  the long, telltale antennae
protruding out from the octos fully fanned arms.  Fascinating reef
formations provided lovely swim-throughs and beautiful scenery for the
underwater photographer.  And while I particularly enjoyed the dramatic,
deep wall dives (the aptly named Black Coral Canyon is simply stunning),
Salt Cay is also blessed with lush shallow reefs, allowing for plenty of
bottom time.

Boats were usually the 24-foot Carolina skiffs, which can get a bit crowded
with 8 divers (the most on the boat during my 7 days of diving), but given
the short boat trips, this wasnt a big deal.  By the end of my stay, I was
the sole diver left on the island, and enjoyed a private boat for my last
several dives.

Youll get a varied sampling of Turks & Caicos diving, as Salt Cay
Divers will schedule weekly boat trips to both Grand Turk (a 30-minute
ride) and South Caicos (an hour and a half on this occasion), depending
upon the weather.  Our ride to South Caicos was a bit rough and longer than
usual; but with calmer seas, it would be well worth the travel time.

Getting to Salt Cay, despite its remote feel, isnt difficult, and I was
able to complete the journey in one days travel.  Air Turks & Caicos
will sometimes reschedule flights without notice; my 4:15pm flight out of
Provo turned into 6:15pm, when they switched aircraft for the earlier
flight and the larger plane was unable to land on Salt Cay.  The airline
staff offered consolation for the delay by waiving the overweight luggage
charge. I wasnt charged the fee in either direction, but considering I was
the only passenger boarding at Salt Cay for the return flight, the plane
clearly wasnt in danger of being overloaded!

While I was initially happy to avoid Miami by flying to Provo on US Air via
Charlotte, I about changed my mind on the return. The customs and
immigration process in Charlotte makes Miamis look like the Indy 500. 
While I have often sped through Miamis pick the fastest line immigration
system in 15 minutes or less, the cattle chute process at Charlotte ate
at least 45 minutes of my layover.  And while my connecting flight had
begun boarding, I found myself waiting in yet another security check line. 

The Tradewinds hotel has 5 rooms, some with full kitchen, and some with
kitchenette.  All have a screen-in porch facing the beach. Water is
potable, and I refilled bottles of water to place in my freezer so Id
always have a cold drink on hand. The rooms are simple, but clean and
comfortable, and bicycles are available for your touring pleasure.  The
dive shop is just a short walk down the road, and its easy to return to
your room between the 9:00am and 11:00am dives.  The afternoon dive, which
was scheduled for 3:00pm, allowed plenty of time for lunch and a leisurely
siesta in a hammock.  Depending on the wishes of the divers, a night dive
can be substituted for the afternoon dive.
Dining at Island Thyme Bistro was an unexpected pleasure, as proprietor
Porter Williams has created an oasis of good taste and warm island
hospitality.  The food was outstanding and graciously served, and the
choices varied.  I ate almost every meal there, although I also sampled
Pats Place and Mount Pleasant Guest House.  In every case, the welcome was
genuine and the food prepared with care. Reservations must be made in
advance at all the restaurants, as on this small island, no one cooks on
speculation. It was not an inconvenience:  Id simply make my breakfast
plans at dinner, lunch plans at breakfast, and dinner plans at lunch 
which allowed me to choose the entrée for my next meal. At Island
Thyme, I was able to run a tab for the week, settling up after my final

I expect to return to Salt Cay, and I know that when I do, I will be warmly
welcomed.  The combination of old Caribbean charm, world-class diving,
fabulous cuisine, and total relaxation will draw me back.   And it cant
be soon enough for me.

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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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